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Being understood when you speak

Being understood when you speak is crucial if you wish to engage your audience. If your audience: whether it be one person or a whole room of people, are struggling to understand you; if they are working TOO hard to understand what you say, they will switch off and no longer take any notice of you: FACT.

There can be any number of reasons why your audience disengages from you; these include.

  • Speaking too fast
  • Mumbling
  • Shouting
  • Speaking with a strong accent
  • Speaking with too much jargon
  • Distracting mannerisms such as hair flicking or over enthusiastic arm waving

This was exactly what I thought when I heard about a TV interview earlier this week at the French Open. The German tennis player Alexander Zverev was interviewed by a British journalist in english, but the German player struggled to understand what the journalist was saying. Why? Because the Englishman had a strong Yorkshire accent. Watch the interview here.

Okay: as you know I love different accents, particularly British ones since we have such a variety of speaking styles in our small country. HOWEVER, if others can’t understand you because of your accent or dialect, you have lost them! In the case of the journalist, he was interviewed on the Jeremy Vine Show and he admitted that he thought it was a joke and that he’d made no effort to modify his accent for a non-English native speaker. It is likely that the German player had not heard some of the vowel sounds of the english speaker and couldn’t understand! But what a waste of an interview, and whilst it was a ‘joke’ really it did no favours for the journalist.

So what are the three things I would do to make it as easy as possible for a non-english mother tongue speaker to understand me.

  1. I would speak slower and more clearly – with additional focus on the diction to ensure they understood.
  2. I would use straight forward vocabulary rather than complicated words, to give them the best chance to understand.
  3. I would have very open body language with good eye contact. I could then sense quickly if the other person didn’t understand something and be able to modify a question quickly.

Accent calming for speakers is not exclusively for clients who speak English as a second language; it is also for English speakers who are aware that their accent needs softening to ensure they make an impact in conversations. If you would like to discuss your training requirements, why not book a complimentary phone call with me to discuss your current challenges and how I could assist you. Book here.

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